Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim was site of community forum on homeless shelter

By Ian Cabrera     10/6/2015

After several delays and scheduling changes, a community forum was held Sept. 30 at Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim to discuss upcoming plans for a year-round emergency shelter. A proposal has been submitted to build the shelter in an abandoned warehouse at 1000 N. Kraemer Place in Anaheim. It will potentially offer temporary housing and other resources to homeless men and women in the community.

Those in attendance who oppose the project passed out petitions to be signed, informational flyers and stickers that read “No 200-bed homeless shelter.” Supporters held large photos of former homeless individuals, ranging from adolescents to adults, who have been able to start a new life after finding refuge in a shelter that offered them a chance at a new beginning.

Supporters of the shelter, many from surrounding communities, gathered prior to the forum to pray. Director of Life Justice and Peace for the Diocese of Orange Greg Walgenbach lead the large group of supporters, asking for the Lord’s guidance for this controversial topic and that those in leadership show compassion for the homeless as they make their decision.

Members of the community on both sides of the issue engaged in conversation with one another before the meeting began, voicing their opinions.

During the course of the proceedings, select board members informed attendees of the proposed plans for the shelter and progress of the project.

Eventually audience members were allowed to address the panel with their thoughts or concerns. Nearly 100 individuals rose to voice their opinions, allowing each person only 30 seconds to speak.

Catherine Ord addressed the board saying, “Homelessness has a variety of faces; it is time for us to stop being afraid of homeless people and start providing the necessary resources.”

This forum was an opportunity for the board to gather the community response to building a shelter in this location. Further deliberation and planning is still required before approval.